Rufous Hummingbird. Photo: Jim Nelson/Audubon Photography Awards

How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in Washington

Vulnerable Birds in Washington

Highly and moderately vulnerable birds may lose more than half of their current range—the geographic area where they live—as they are forced to search for suitable habitat and climate conditions elsewhere.


Flyway Pacific Flyway
State Brief Download [PDF]

Below, find out which of the birds that nest or spend the winter in your area are most vulnerable across their entire range. Some birds may lose range outside of your state, making the protection of their current habitat in your area even more important.

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How will the Rufous Hummingbird's range be affected in Washington?

Rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns affect birds' ability to find food and reproduce, which over time impacts local populations, and ultimately continent-wide populations, too. Some species may even go extinct in your state if they cannot find the conditions they need to survive and raise their young.

Select a warming scenario to see how this species’ range will change under increased global temperatures.

Reducing warming makes many types of birds found in Washington less vulnerable.

In order to hold warming steady, we must act now to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We must reduce our carbon emissions and also absorb what is produced through natural solutions like reforestation or with technology that removes carbon from the air.

Click the three different warming scenarios to explore how increased warming puts more species in Washington at risk.

Washington's Birds and Habitats

Washington’s outer coast hosts migrating shorebirds and seabirds from the Pacific Flyway like Western Sandpiper and Sooty Shearwater. At Olympic National Park, where fog-shrouded forests support birds along mountains and rivers, endangered populations of Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet still occur. The Cascades Range is home to hundreds of bird species, like Pileated Woodpecker and Swainson’s Thrush, including 182 species on Mount Rainier alone. On drier landscapes in the Columbia Basin, Mountain Bluebirds gather in open woodlands and clearings, and Sage Thrashers sing over the sagebrush steppe.

Climate Policy in Washington

Electricity Generation Breakdown
6 % Wind
1.6 % Biomass
70.9 % Hydro
9.4 % Natural Gas
4.7 % Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
BELOW 1990
levels by 2035
BELOW 1990
levels by 2050
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2020
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

Washington ranks second in the nation in total electricity generated from renewable resources after California. The state is reducing carbon emissions across a variety of sectors through its Clean Buildings Policy, electric vehicle incentives, and solar tax credits. In 2019, the state legislature passed a 100-percent clean-electricity goal. The clean energy industry employs over 82,000 people, making it a bigger employer in the state than Microsoft (around 46,000 employees) or Amazon (50,000 employees).

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in Washington

Washington sea levels could rise up to four feet by 2100, threatening coastal communities along Puget Sound and eroding mudflats and wetlands. Temperatures have risen between 1 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, increasing the risk of wildfires and disrupting ocean food webs. In the coming decades, climate models predict that Washington will experience hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter falls, winters, and springs. These changes will result in less snow pack, warmer water conditions, and increased threat of wildfires. Fish and wildlife populations that are unable to adapt to these changes will likely suffer.

The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk harm people, too. Hover over or tap an area on the map to see specific threats that will affect that area as warming increases.